May 29, 2014

Update to Autonomous Cars

Clearly, Brother jg has hacked my Facebook feed just to make a point:


Posted by John Kranz at 5:52 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2014

"Home James" Hey, I said HOME!

Just today I shared my belief that "all humans desire freedom." Here is proof that I was wrong.

Hey, it's a better driver than your husband. What's not to like?

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:36 PM | Comments (10)
But jk thinks:

You've never taken the bus to a Rockies game?

I have, and -- shockingly! -- there was not a steering wheel and brake for each rider. All of us little collectivists were going to the same baseball game and there was little value in a polycentric order.

Now, let's replace the freedom-reducing bus with individual autonomous cars occupied only by those with whom we have chosen to ride, listening to our favorite Trace Adkins songs, and deviating from path to drive through Starbucks.

Yet this ingenious device still drops us off at the front entrance, either to go park itself far away and cheaply, or leaving to serve some other hard-working, autonomous, individualistic Americans!

Sorry, but my eyes are kind of misting up...

Posted by: jk at May 29, 2014 4:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL. You imagine a mechanical version of Hi Ho Silver and I picture the Johnny Cab from Total Recall.

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2014 5:38 PM
But AndyN thinks:

It seems to be smarter than I am, to be more alert than I am, and to have better reflexes than I do, so it should be safer than any car that I'm controlling. And there's the problem, because with our ever-expanding government, safety features can't be just an option.

I look at this car and all I see is a 2,000 pound Armatix iP1 - a fascinating technological advancement that would eventually be accepted by a free market, but that I instinctively dislike because I know at some point some fascist will try to force it upon me.

Posted by: AndyN at May 29, 2014 6:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Glad to be back in the optimist's chair -- the past five years have been brutal.

AndyN and jg may well be right. It would certainly make a lot more sense to coerce us into these than to regulate the number of bullets we can put in a magazine.

But I see a revolutionary and exciting new technology -- period. Yes, t could be misused and will likely be mismanaged by government in some fashion. But I caution those who enjoy modernity to leave the techno-pessimism to the left. "How will faster microprocessors be used to exploit minorities and the poor?"

Even if the prosperitarian-productivity arguments don't get you and you are blind to the tremendous empowerment of elderly and disabled, let me share one pro freedom aspect of these I saw referenced recently: the obviation of traffic enforcement. No more "click it or ticket;" no more pulling you over for a busted taillight; no more DWCP (Driving With Colorado Plates). That would be a huge advance for liberty.

Posted by: jk at May 30, 2014 10:15 AM
But dagny thinks:

Let me know when it will tow a 40ft. 6 horse trailer without bumping the curbs.

Posted by: dagny at May 30, 2014 11:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

No more drag racing on main street at 1 am. ;)

I think I mentioned I love the tech. What I don't love is the implementation chosen by Google for demonstration purposes. I want the Dodge version of this... not the PRT version as envisioned by the DAWG promoting egalitarians at

Empowerment of the less mobile? Yaay.
Faster and safer travel? Yaay.
Legalized texting while driving? Yaay.

Just put my manual controls back in. That's all I ask. Well, and maybe a turbocharged V-something with 8-speed automatic paddle shifted transmission, independent active suspension and a tuned exhaust. Or an electric power plant with a thorium battery. And voice controls.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2014 3:34 PM

December 13, 2009

Really, Really Evil

If true. If this is true, Google is evil. This is a so far anonymous email to Rand Simberg:

It’s very disturbing how Google is behaving with regard to Climategate/Climaquiddick. I put both of those in my custom news page. For a while, it steadfastly refused to update Climaquiddick, and then it began to update Climategate only with stories attacking climate change skeptics. I could find many more stories on Yahoo, most of which were alarmed at the fraud which seems to be occurring.

Then when I logged in today, Google News had deleted those two categories from my custom section. When I reestablished them, they brought up only a few of the old, outdated original stories plus a few newer attack stories.

Web searches on Climaquiddick yielded only 72,600 hits on Google and 84,300 on Bing, but 565,000 on Yahoo. None of them will autocomplete the word “Climaquiddick.” They won’t autocomplete “Climategate” either, but Yahoo alone will suggest “climate gate.”

Does everyone in Silicon Valley think that pretending information doesn’t exist will make it so? If so, how much can we trust the technology they produce?

I'm a Yahoo guy thinking of migrating to Bing -- anybody see this?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2009

Certainly in the Vicinity of Evil...

I'll briefly remind that I stood up for Google when brother ac took them to task for facilitating Chinese censorship, and even when brother jg claimed their stock was overvalued.

But there is an underlying creep factor on privacy concerns. And CEO Eric Schmitt let it loose on CNBC.

Schmidt's philosophy is clear with Bartiromo in the clip below: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." The philosophy that secrets are useful mainly to indecent people is awfully convenient for Schmidt as the CEO of a company whose value proposition revolves around info-hoarding. Convenient, that is, as long as people are smart enough not to apply the "secrets suck" philosophy to their Google passwords , credit card numbers and various other secrets they need to put money in Google's pockets.

Hat-tip: Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last who says "Google = Slightly Evil?"

Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith thinks:

And yet, if Tiger Woods had heeded this advice - not doing things that cause him embarrassment - then he wouldn't be in the current less-than-happy place in which he finds himself.

And had all the climate wizards at East Anglia's CRU followed that advice and not faked everything on which the climate change cult is founded, perhaps they would not be living in their predicament.

Mark Sanford, anyone? Larry Craig? At least David Carradine doesn't have to live with the shame of his private secrets in the public eye.

We live in an information age in which secrets are admittedly harder to keep - and have since the Watergate cover-up unraveled. We're watching the death of hypocrisy. In the near future, people will have to choose between living lives as admirable as their facades, or adopting Henry Ford's philosophy when he was caught in flagrate delicto and saying "Never complain, never explain."

Having said all that - yeah, really creepy. There's an element of truth to what Schmitt says (and the pastor side of me appreciates the kernel of living consistently with that), but it will be interesting to see if the tune changes when someone finds and discloses where his skeletons are buried.

Posted by: Keith at December 8, 2009 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Privacy qua privacy is a difficult concept -- I'll bet a stunning majority of Americans agree with Schmidt.

I am the farthest thing you're going to find from a true civil libertarian but it is extremely important to resist this defense. The same can be said against one's right to not testify, right to not register a gun, et freaking cetera.

Also pretty disturbing that a guy as smart as he is cannot lie better. “Oh, we’re very concerned about privacy…”

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2009 3:31 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: and yet a stunning segment of Americans read the tabloids, and can't go three days without the television gossip shows.

You know I have a certain perverse delight in taking the ugly side of issues, and I apologize regularly for a lot of "yes, but..." comments. I hope I don't surprise anyone by pointing out that any free-marketer would agree that the tabloids wouldn't exist without a willing customer base eager to poke their noses into other people's private lives, nor would "The Real Housewives Of [fill in the blank]".

People compartmentalize. They expect their privacy to be respected, unless there's money or a crack at American Idol in it for them. They're not ashamed of downloading porn or beating the kids (not enough to stop doing it), but they're ashamed of others knowing about them doing it. But they're eager to know about the dirt in the lives of others.

Hmm. An argument for a consistent ethos about respecting privacy - that of others as well as their own?

Perhaps my point of view stems in part from dealing with the aftermath of people enjoying their vices until they were busted for them, and the damage done to themselves and their families. I don't take issue with placing a high value on privacy - I merely add to it placing a high value on not living in such a way that requires me to live hypocritically, as I suspect you do as well.

Posted by: Keith at December 8, 2009 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Let me grab the two examples you offered. I believe that beating your kids is illegal and, outside of Saudi Arabia, downloading porn is not.

If one commits a crime (folks around these parts might split it further to harming others), he forfeits privacy on that issue. I don't mind the child-beater's being exposed.

Celebrities exchange their privacy for other benefits of fame. If I live to be a thousand I'll never understand the fascination. All the same, they can be photographed in public, or an enterprising ET reporter can sift through theory garbage, but even they enjoy boundaries and islands of privacy.

You can certainly do something that you would prefer not be shared that is not immoral. My real objection to Schmidt is his rejection of that.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2009 5:08 PM

September 21, 2008

Mister Orwell, Call Your Office

Protecting "the children" from speech in the UK: "YouTube is to ban footage showing weapons being used to intimidate people on its website in the UK." (Izzit just me or is that questionable grammar from a BBC reporter? Are the people actually being threatened "on [YouTube's] website in the UK?")

The Home Secretary said she was "extremely pleased" YouTube had "taken action to ban videos glamourising weapons".

"This is a real step forward. I would like to see other internet service providers follow suit to reinforce our message that violence will not be tolerated either on the internet or in the real world," she added.

In July, the Culture, Media and Sport select committee called for a new industry body to be set up to protect children from harmful content on the web.

The committee also said it should be "standard practice" for sites hosting user-generated content to review material proactively.

Hat-tip Instapundit who says "Clearly, you can't count on Google to champion free speech." Frankly, I am a lot more worried about Britain. We've had Google worries around here, and I will admit that there is a creepy element to the information behemoth. I'm a Yahoo guy® myself and believe that Google will not be able to get the market saturation required to rule the Internet. They have share, but the cost to compete with them is low and the cost to switch is almost zero.

Worry about Google but fear the State's coercive power. The cradle of liberty has already given away its citizens' right to self defense with guns. Now that they are slashing each other with knives, the Home Secretary will ban pictures of knives.

UPDATE: Never mind, there's nothing wrong with the UK. I went to Samizdata to see if they were discussing this and found this:

Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings were not binding and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

Yes, the Enlightenment lives.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2007

On Innovation

When Larry Kudlow asked Mayor Giuliani how he was going to get health insurance to the uninsured, Hizzoner gave my favorite political answer of all time: "How did we make cell phones cheap?"

That may be a non-sequitor to the collectivists, but I'm sure the ThreeSources faithful get it. Free Market competition and innovation brought what was once the archetypal luxury item to commodity pricing. We don't ask how we're going to get people cell phones -- every 12 year old has one or two.

That spirit of innovation may take a big step up. The Wall Street Journal (paid link) reports on a Google push into the wireless marketplace.

Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce advanced software and services that would allow handset makers to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year, people familiar with the situation say. In recent months Google has approached several U.S. and foreign handset manufacturers about the idea of building phones tailored to Google software, with Taiwan's HTC Corp. and South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. mentioned in the industry as potential contenders. Google is also seeking partnerships with wireless operators. In the U.S., it has the most traction with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA, while in Europe it is pursuing relationships with France Télécom's Orange SA and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s 3 U.K., people familiar with the matter say. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Google-powered phones are expected to wrap together several Google applications -- among them, its search engine, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail email -- that have already made their way onto some mobile devices. The most radical element of the plan, though, is Google's push to make the phones' software "open" right down to the operating system, the layer that controls applications and interacts with the hardware. That means independent software developers would get access to the tools they need to build additional phone features.

The details are a bit murky, but the world's largest corporation will certainly influence any area it finds strategic. I was selling technology to search engine purveyors a few years ago and they unanimously said that their investments would be in the mobile space.

I'm thinking that when Google joins Wal*Mart in focusing on profit potential in health care, the problems we stew about will all be solved.

UPDATE: A WSJ email alert alerts:

After opposing Google Inc.'s moves to dramatically reshape the wireless industry, Verizon Wireless is now in serious discussions with the Internet company over carrying phones tailored to a new Google operating system, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Looks like AT&T-Apple vs. Verizon-Google. I guess my beloved T-Mobile will get stuck with Microsoft®...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:15 PM

November 24, 2006

Friedman Was Right, Part MLXVIII

Professor Henry Manne, from George Mason University, has a great guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today entitled Milton Friedman Was Right

It seems the two tangled on the execution of "socially responsible" corporate behavior. And that Penne has now come around to the Friedmanite position:

Milton Friedman famously declared that the sole business of the managers of a publicly held corporation was to maximize the value of its outstanding shares. Any effort to use corporate resources for purely altruistic purposes he equated to socialism. He proposed that corporation law should prevent managers from straying off the reservation to join the altruists, a power now almost universally granted them by state legislation.

It's a great article. While it is directed more at public utilities and altruistic behavior in the consumer staples, retail, and utilities sectors, I choose to hide behind Friedman in one of my old assertions: That Google should represent its shareholders' fiduciary interests -- even at the expense of standing up to Chinese Communists censors.

The blogosphere had a little boomlet of Google-bashing last January when Google capitulated to ChiCom pressure to censor truly dangerous concepts like freedom, democracy, and falun gong from its searches.

I had few assenters when I suggested that they should worry about shareholder value.

Friedman's points extrapolate well to cover this interest. If Google exists to serve the public good, we the people can make any demands of it we like. Maybe a quota to link to more minority and women owned businesses.

Google made the decision it did and its share price is up more than 25% in ten months. Let the Marines spread Democracy, let Google create wealth for its shareholders.

Now I realize (I should have known) he was absolutely correct about the significance of proposals for socially responsible corporate behavior, whether they emanated from within or outside the corporation. These proposals reflect, as well as anything else happening today, the inability of many commentators to distinguish between private and public property -- in other words, between a free enterprise system and socialism. Somehow large-scale business success, usually resulting in a publicly held company, seems mysteriously to transform the nature of numerous individuals' private investments into assets affected with a public interest. And once these corporate behemoths are "affected with a public interest," they must either be regulated by the state or they must act as though they are owned by the public, and are therefore inferentially a part of the state. This attitude is reflected not merely by corporate activists, but by many "modern" corporate managers.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM

October 24, 2006

Google Shmoogle

Since JK's "gratuitous swipe" last Thursday, GOOG's share price has soared another 54 points, an increase of more than 12 percent in just two trading days. Which means it is finally almost 10 points above its all-time high of $471.66 on 11 January, 2006. I'm sure this comes as a relief to the many casual traders who bought in January since the share price has been largely under water since then prior to last week.

Google's year-to-date appreciation is indeed about 16%, but stodgy old Exxon-Mobil checks in with nearly 25% gain since January 1. And, has dividends to boot!

goog ytd.gif

Add to this that XOM's P/E ratio is 11 while GOOG's is 61 and the same dollar invested in Exxon delivers more than five times the earnings as does that slick tech fad.

When I said in January that paying $400 a share for Google would earn you the moniker "moron" it was because Google is the exact same formula that created (and burst) the 1999-2000 tech bubble: Hype and buzz and very little hard assets. If you want to ride that firecracker again then don't let li'l ol' me stop you!

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:54 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Well played, friend, well played.

I'll agree with your premise of XOM over GOOG, but dispute that the current GOOG run is all hype or comparable to

Does your cool charting tool do PEG ratios? I contend that Google's high P/E is supported by growth of earnings -- exactly what the bubble stocks did not have.

I should point out to anybody choosing sides that jg has a farm to bet and I lost everything on a start-up I was working for. I take my gratuitous swipes from a house of glass.

Posted by: jk at October 24, 2006 10:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I have to admit to not knowing what a PEG ratio is but I've since learned that it isn't generally a charted value, presumably because it doesn't change very fast. I also learned that a PEG ratio (P/E ratio divided by expected long term growth rate) of more than 1.0 is poor, less than 1.0 is good, and less than 0.5 is excellent. lists the 5-year expected PEG ratios for GOOG and XOM as 1.58 and 1.53, respectively. These are virtually equal, which tells me that Exxon's earnings growth is not great (to be expected for the leading company in a mature market) and that Google's earnings growth is almost good enough to counteract its huge P/E ratio.

One may conclude that investing in Google is as wise as investing in Exxon Mobil, except for that insane share price. And why does Google keep it so high instead of splitting it down to the 25-50 range? I'm just guessing but I suspect the founders restrictions on the selling of shares are tied to number of shares instead of percentage of outstanding shares or dollar value. If shares are worth $500 each then they can cash out bigger faster. More investors buying Google only helps them more.

Posted by: johngalt at October 26, 2006 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps they're big Berkshire-Hathaway fans...

I brought up the PEG ratio to show that Google's higher multiple is supported by its highert growth rate.

Posted by: jk at October 26, 2006 4:23 PM

October 23, 2006

The Race


Connecticut: Ned Lamont
Maryland: Ben Cardin
Michigan: Debbie Stanbenow
Missouri: Claire McCaskill
Montana: Jon Tester
New Jersey: Bob Menendez
Tennessee: Harold Ford
Virginia: James Webb

Democrat Held Seats

(CO-03): John Salazar
(GA-03): Jim Marshall
(GA-12): John Barrow
(IA-03): Leonard Boswell
(IL-08): Melissa Bean
(IL-17): Phil Hare
(IN-07): Julia Carson
(NC-13): Brad Miller
(PA-12): John Murtha
(WV-01): Alan Mollohan

Republican Held Seats

(AZ-08): Gabrielle Giffords
(CT-04): Diane Farrell
(CT-05): Chris Murphy
(CO-07): Ed Perlmutter
(IA-01): Bruce Braley
(IL-06): Tammy Duckworth
(IN-02): Joe Donnelly
(IN-08): Brad Ellsworth
(IN-09): Baron Hill
(FL-13): Christine Jennings
(FL-16): Tim Mahoney
(FL-22): Ron Klein
(KY-03): John Yarmuth
(NC-01): Heath Shuler
(MN-06): Patty Wetterling
(NM-01): Patricia Madrid
(NY-20): Kirsten Gillibrand
(NY-24): Michael Arcuri
(NY-26): Jack Davis
(OH-15): Mary Jo Kilroy
(OH-18): Zack Space
(PA-06): Lois Murphy
(PA-08): Patrick Murphy
(PA-07): Joe Sestak
(PA-10): Chris Carney
(VA-02): Phil Kellam
(WI-08): Steve Kagen

What's this all about?

See here.

Posted by AlexC at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Sestak got slapped around pretty good in the last Welson/Sestak debate.

The Inkwaster came out yesterday and endorsed Casey over Santorum.

But,..the same Inky endorsed Fitzpatrick over Murphy today.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at October 23, 2006 9:39 PM

October 19, 2006

Epistemology vs. Equities

Just a quick, gratuitous swipe at my blog brother, JohnGalt. Be careful predicting in a public forum.

On January 27, I started one of our famous internecine conflicts, defending Google. They had capitulated to Communist censorship in China, but I pointed out that they had a market capitalization to email home about.

Mine is still that this company is justifying a 50 multiple to its shareholders. If you pay $40,000 for 100 shared of GOOG, you are probably not too keen on their missing an in on the fastest growing market in the world.

On January 30, JohnGalt commented "'If you pay $40,000 for 100 shares of GOOG' you are a moron."

The Wall Street Journal notes Google's Net Nearly Doubles As Ad Sales Continue to Sizzle - and sends out this email alert:

Oct. 19, 2006

Google's profit nearly doubled and revenue soared 70% to $2.69 billion as the Internet giant continued to gain market share in online advertising. Excluding payments made to advertising partners, Google's revenue rose to $1.86 billion from $1.05 billion a year earlier. Google continued to expand at a frantic pace, hiring 1,436 people in the quarter, leaving it with 9,378 full-time employees.

Google's shares gained 6% to more than $450 after hours.

We can disagree on China and now add the PC policing of YouTube, but I have to point out that jg turned his nose up at a 16.7% annualized return.

Just sayin.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM

July 4, 2006

AlexC Gets Results!

Google is apparently unwilling to risk further disapprobation from ThreeSources. By the time I hit it, they were in the spirit of the day:

UPDATE: No publicity is bad publicity. This long time Yahoo bigot has just changed over to Google. They provide -- free -- what I used to pay $19.95 a year for at Yahoo. I created a gmail account and personal home page, and changed my Firefox home to ThreeSources | ThreeSources Edit | Google. Resistance was futile, I have been assimilated.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | Comments (5)
But AlexC thinks:
But johngalt thinks:

"Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones is ready, watch your speed."

Posted by: johngalt at July 5, 2006 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

You'd make a terrible deadhead, jg, it's "Casey Jones you better watch your speed."

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2006 10:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Why, thank you JK! That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me in a long time 'round these parts!

I got the lyric from some Deadhead website. Can't say I'm surprised they wouldn't know the words.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2006 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

I had to double-check. I thought "Dude! I was so baked I didn't have the words right!"

I liked a lot of their stuff but I had to continually tell my friends that there are other bands.

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2006 2:46 PM

June 10, 2006

Google Searches

No one here has blogged about Google in a while.

But someone at the Google Blogoscope has compiled a list of censored searches at the Chinese Google.

The top 10?

    human rights
    mao zedong
    what google censors
    bird flu

Human is censored? I guess a search like that could lead to "human rights"... but that's really casting a wide net.

Posted by AlexC at 10:24 AM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Pick at that scab! Pretty soon, none of us will be on speaking terms with another.

I will concede that CW has gone entirely your way; even a lot of Google people think they were wrong.

Yet I stubbornly hold on to my contention that it is no different to ask British Petroleum not to sell gas that contributes to global warming. We should remove the "consciousness" from corporations and let them be bound by the invisible hand. Maximize the asset value of shareholders and let others fight for universal rights. Donate some money if you want.

Professor Reynolds contends that they have lost their cool factor with the China deal and the censoring of conservative blogs. People are eyeing them skeptically and boycotting. For what it's worth, I'm a Yahoo guy by tradition and inertia but I wouldn't claim they had done much better.

My last company was almost bought by the "Dogpile" folks. They are nice and bright, check out

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2006 1:05 PM
But AlexC thinks:

BP should continue to sell gas because that's always been their goal. (Well, really it's make money)

Make fuel.

Google's whole point was to provide information. When they go deliberately tampering with the information, not for some technical reason, but for a governmental reason, that's where people get pissed.

Posted by: AlexC at June 11, 2006 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Aha! You found it yourself. Google is not in business to provide information, they are in business to sell advertising. Operating in China allows them to sell more advertising.

If you talk to a Google engineer (which I do not recommend) they like to say their business is "raising the world's IQ." By providing hobbled Google to the Chinese instead of a state owned solution, I would say they had succeeded on that point as well.

You might have a compatriot at Banana Oil. Ian has to experience the firewall firsthand Plus his quote from "The Fountainhead" will be well received.

Posted by: jk at June 11, 2006 12:32 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Ok, mea culpa. Google's business NOW is to make money. They used to be about finding information. The two google founders worked on it as part of PhD work.

Posted by: AlexC at June 11, 2006 1:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah but the $117 BBBBillion market cap is not a referendum on their research, it exists to pursue business opportunities.

I know we'll never agree on that but don't you see a danger in asking a corporation to pursue some greater good than increasing asset value? It's going to be far more frequently employed by leftists who'll want an agenda you don't agree with.

How about companies make money and bloggers save the world?

Posted by: jk at June 11, 2006 6:19 PM
But AlexC thinks:

All I'm asking is that a corporation persues their stated ideals. If it's "do no evil" I'm at a loss as to how that fits with "kowtowing to a evil political system."

If they're going to do the latter, they should drop pretense of the former.

Posted by: AlexC at June 11, 2006 10:23 PM

June 6, 2006

Google Spreadsheets

This sounds interesting.

Google is coming out with an online spreadsheet.

    Create basic spreadsheets from scratch.
    You can start from scratch and do all the basics, including changing the number format, sorting by columns, and adding formulas.

    Upload your spreadsheet files.
    Upload spreadsheets or worksheets from CSV or XLS format - all your formulas and formatting will come across intact.

That's the hook right there. Your existing spreadsheets are going to get sucked in, and work. I just wonder how well.

Posted by AlexC at 10:56 AM

March 13, 2006


Selling out to communists is a bad thing.

But this is a good thing.

Posted by AlexC at 4:34 PM

February 8, 2006

Shareholder Wealth

It's beat dead horses week at ThreeSources -- thanks for playing!

I suggested that the Steelers won the Super Bowl, questioned the resource allocation in the Rhode Island GOP Senate Primary, and had the temerity to say --contra the blogosphere -- that Google should maximize the value for its shareholders, even if that meant kowtowing to the ChiComs on filtering results from its search engine.

Professor Bainbridge takes my side on the last issue (no word from him on the pass interference call)

But does all of this mean that corporate fiduciary duty law should require -- or, at least, allow -- corporate directors and officers to behave in ways Kleiman deems brave or responsible when doing so would be inconsistent with shareholder wealth maximization? I think not.

In the first place, requiring directors to maximize shareholder wealth provides the board of directors with a determinate metric for making business decisions. I often use the following example to explain what I mean by that: Suppose Acme's board of directors is considering closing an obsolete plant. The board is advised that closing the plant will cost many long-time workers their job and be devastating for the local community. On the other hand, the board's advisors confirm that closing the existing plant will benefit Acme's shareholders, new employees hired to work at a more modern plant to which the work previously performed at the old plant will be transferred, and the local communities around the modern plant. Assume that the latter groups cannot gain except at the former groups' expense. By what standard should the board make the decision?

Shareholder wealth maximization provides a clear answer -- close the plant. Once the directors are allowed to deviate from shareholder wealth maximization, however, they must inevitably turn to indeterminate balancing standards. Such standards deprive directors of the critical ability to determine ex ante whether their behavior comports with the law's demands, raising the transaction costs of corporate governance.

Worse yet, absent the clear standard provided by the shareholder wealth maximization norm, the board of directors will be tempted to allow their personal self-interest to dominate their decision making. Put another way, directors who are allowed to consider everybody's interests end up being accountable to no one.

While it is swell to see a company sticking up for values that we admire, the purpose of the capital markets is to direct capital to its best (most efficient) use. without the metric of profit, we will get whatever board members think is important.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM

February 1, 2006

Selling Out

Andy Kessler

    One of the ways defines “sellout” is to alienate core fans by changing one’s style to appeal to a broader audience—and becoming what one’s fans were rebelling against in the first place. The U.S. government wanted search history to help fight child porn and Google said no way, to cheers from their Big Brother-hating constituency. But for its search service in China, Google caved to the communists, removing offending results for “Human Rights” and “Things that are Democratic.” Tough choice. Founder Sergey Brin is quoted by Fortune as saying, “it will be better for Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information, though not quite all of it.”


Posted by AlexC at 12:42 PM

Google Parody

Okay, The folks at The Weekly Standard disagree with me. But this week's parody is funny!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM

January 31, 2006

China, Google, Democracy

I was going to link to this TCS article from James V. DeLong because he echoes several of my themes. And I have been badly outnumbered in the blogosphere of late.

And given this Chinese view, what should Google do? Google should do what Google does, which is search engines. Google is not a Chinese leader, and it is not the role or duty of Google to tell China how to rule itself, or to tell the Chinese leader dedicated to the betterment of the people how to act, even when what the Chinese government does goes against the grain of American views of free speech.

In the end, search engines, even truncated ones, will contribute to the economic and political development of China, as Hazlett noted. The working out of this story will be one of the great tales of human history, for tragedy or triumph, depending on how it goes.

Perhaps more interesting are his projections of anti-democratic forces. If I read him right, he is suggesting that China might be more free than the US in a half century or so. Looking for democracies for China to model itself after, DeLong predicts that Europe will NOT be democratic in fifty years -- and he's not too sanguine about the States:
From an economic point of view, the whole U.S. is turning into a massive anti-commons, where everyone has veto power over every form of productive investment. It has shut down much of its manufacturing and extractive industries. A good symbol is that is a nation with an energy crisis that cannot even find a spot to build a refinery or an LNG terminal. It is now turning on even such innocuous industries as Wal-Mart, for heaven's sake!
Far from a model, the U.S. may be running on the fumes of its human capital of gifted and entrepreneurial people, but is far from clear that current trends will allow for the continuing replenishment of this class. And the nation is pinning a lot on high-tech, since it seems bent on suppressing other forms of economic activity.

He suggests that China is correct to "Focus on perestroika above glasnost." To add freedoms without devolving into mob rule. To establish rule of law before democracy.

It is NOT a Sharansky-esque philosophy and as such it falls roughly on my ears. But it is a serious pro-freedom view that answers the concerns of Fareed Zakaria and others who believe in freedom and self-rule while fearing their possible consequences.

Good stuff.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM

Who appreciates capatalism?

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page (paid link, sorry!) quotes an interesting survey and concludes "No wonder Mao isn't smiling."

In a poll conducted for the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes between June and August last year, fully 74% of Chinese citizens said they agreed with the statement "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world." The Philippines, at 73%, and the U.S., at 71%, were second and third. The poll, which surveyed 20,791 people in 20 countries, seems like a pretty good snapshot of current sentiment, as such things go.

Remarkable, isn't it, that residents of the Middle Kingdom have maintained their appreciation of the benefits of free enterprise through six decades of oppression and economic backwardness imposed by their Communist cadres? Then again, for a culture in which common New Year's greetings include "I wish you happiness and many riches" and "may you make great profits," should we be surprised? Most Hong Kong residents are spending the current Chinese New Year holiday politely distributing packets of crisp new cash to friends and family. They have to earn this gift cash somehow.

Less encouraging in the Maryland survey was the response of Europeans, who could use a dollop of capitalism given the sclerotic state of their older economies. Fully half of the French disagreed that capitalism is the best way forward. Italians and Spaniards were more supportive of Adam Smith's ideals, with 59% and 63%, respectively, voting for free markets.

I cannot help but feel that China is headed in the right direction with attitudes like this. Personal liberty will follow economic liberty.

The Eurosclerocis is indeed disturbing. With India and China advancing, most countries will now be able to ignore Europe as a major market and allow it to fade away into a dystopia with elderly Europeans and unassimilated Muslims.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM

January 29, 2006

Continued Googling

"Tiananmen Square" in a free country...


"Tiananmen Square" in an oppressed one.

Posted by AlexC at 8:26 PM

Google Flogging


Market Cap: 128.12B
P/E (ttm): 96.03
EPS (ttm): 4.51

Discuss Among Yourselves.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:47 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Sarbanes-Oxley, where are you?

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2006 3:12 PM

January 27, 2006

Google Unwhacking

I thought that I was the only guy on the Internet who did not want to do shock & awe on Google headquarters. I may be, but VodkaPundit has some comments that bolster my case. Stephen Green points out that they are ultimately hurting their own competitiveness.

In a high-tech economy, the free flow of information defines how competitive a people can be. Less freedom, lower competitiveness. There's more to it than that, however. More information means less opacity, and that means more corruption. This, in turn again, means lower competitiveness.

China is trying to compete in the high-tech economy, while crippling the tools that make such competition possible.

I don't mean to say that you shouldn't be mad at Google. I am, and will be so long as they continue with such repugnant business practices. And don't get me wrong – having Google, even a restricted version, will in some small way prolong China's dictatorship. And the Chinese people will suffer, by losing what could have been a sharp weapon in their fight for freedom.

But it's not the end of the world, either.

That's his point. Mine is still that this company is justifying a 50 multiple to its shareholders. If you pay $40,000 for 100 shared of GOOG, you are probably not too keen on their missing an in on the fastest growing market in the world. Just a thought.
Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"If you pay $40,000 for 100 shares of GOOG" you are a moron.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2006 3:19 PM